Saudi Arabia’s General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) has announced closure of Saudi airports for international flights for two weeks from Sunday (today) as a measure to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
On Saturday, 17 new cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infections were reported in the Kingdom, raising the total to 103 from the 86 on Friday.
The aviation authority issued a formal NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) for suspension of international flights from Sunday.
The suspension will begin at 11 a.m. local time on Sunday, the ministry said in a statement carried by the Saudi Press Agency.
Some flights would only be allowed in “exceptional cases” during the two-week period, according to the notice.
According to the announcement, residents who cannot come back during this period, it will be considered as an official holiday.
Pakistan’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and the PIA had earlier asked the Saudi authorities to extend a deadline aimed at banning flights to and from the kingdom over coronavirus fear till March 25, as the operation to bring back stranded Pakistanis is yet to be completed.
The Saudi authorities, however, refused the request.
It is pertinent to mention here that General Authority of Civil Aviation (GACA) in its circular sent to all air carriers operating from and to the airports of Saudi Arabia stated, “A time limit of (72) hours is given to the citizens of the Kingdom and current residents holding valid Iqama to return to the Kingdom.”